Yes my friends, this picture is how I felt inside about singing for years. The funny thing is that I always wanted to sing but was super scared that I wouldn’t sound good so I didn’t a lot! I didn’t try to sing at all for years because I felt like I was genetically jipped in some way where everyone else was blessed with a beautiful singing voice except me. It all seems really funny to me now. I really like to sing but I wouldn’t because I cared about what other people thought so much that I didn’t.
In order to validate this fear, I had a lot of proof. My friend made a comment saying that she thought I was joking and when she realized I wasn’t she turned up the radio. Another friend said that I was ruining a song at a wedding when alcohol rubbed away my fear and I was belting it out. The list goes on. It’s amazing how the slightest criticism can shut a person down from exploring their creativity. We live in a harsh culture where if you aren’t good at something then just don’t do it, even if it brings you joy or else you will get judged. The honest facts are, I probably wasn’t a very good singer, because I never sang! The more you practice something the better you get at it and I wasn’t putting in the time because of my inhibitions.
How did all this start? I don’t want to be blaming anyone because at the end of the day it’s my job to heal myself. However, in the past these events happened that started my singing shutdown. My first experience with singing was in church when I was a little girl. I was raised Catholic and my mother was very religious but my father wasn’t. He was raised Lutheran and converted for my mother. He used to complain with me all the time about going to church. My mother would sing all the songs and I used to think she sounded nice. She used to be a second soprano in a choir when she was younger. My dad would play a game with me called “Frickus” where he pretended his hand was a claw and it would eat my hand to keep me entertained in church. He would jokingly howl like a wolf and say that my mom sounded awful and bad. I never responded but would listen. I loved my dad so much and started to develop my fear then because I would never sing out of fear that my father wouldn’t like my voice.
I didn’t sing forever until I was 21 and I bought a guitar. For some reason I was drawn to it and singing. I wanted to overcome my fear because I enjoyed singing. I practiced scales, chords and learned to play a song. At this time of my life, I already graduated from college and was working for my first computer consulting job that re-located me to Santa Barbara, CA. My father came to visit and of course pull out my guitar to play for him. When I played for him he started laughing at me to the point that he was crying. He then went on to reference the movie Animal House with the scene where John Belushi sees the guy singing on the stairs to all the girls and he picks up the guitar and smashes it everywhere. My dad said how he loved that scene because the singer guy was so corny and John Belushi rightfully smashed his guitar. I sold my guitars and didn’t pick them up again for 11 years.
I kept getting this nagging to sing and around 28 I took a singing class at The Old Town School of Music in Chicago. I learned some basics to singing and just had some fun. They got me singing into a microphone so I could playback what I sang but I was always super critical of myself and couldn’t stand listening to the playback.
At 32 I met my ex-husband and he was a musical theater major and I was in acting at the time. I got over my fear of talking in front of people on stage but I still had a hard time singing. We lived in a house with 3 musical theater roomies and me. We used to have a lot of gatherings at my house and lots of musical people came over and played music. I was super envious because I really really wanted to sing but completely lacked confidence to ever belt out my voice or even sing softly. My ex-husband encouraged me to pick up my guitar and play again and so I did. When I sang for him he would cry because he loved hearing me sing. As you can imagine, this was incredibly healing for me as I was terrified before and he gave me some much needed courage. He then proceeded to tell me how his singing teacher would never let anyone laugh at anyone else because they were taking a risk and others needed to respect that risk.
I started to dabble with singing in groups at our parties and I started practicing my guitar again. This time I mostly played chords simply so I can accompany myself when I sang. I even took about 2 or 3 months of private lessons. When I took my lessons, it was the start of my health journey and I remember the entire time that I took lessons, I had a sinus infection. It was awful, I couldn’t breath at all and it muffled how I could hear myself. I tried to work through it but overall singing with a sinus infection isn’t very much fun. My old roommate Kevin was so sweet and would often help me and encourage me. I would from then on stop and start playing again based on if I was inspired by a song on the radio. If I liked the song, then I got good enough to look up the song and pluck my way through it.
Now I am to the point where I like to sing even in public even if I’m not the best singer. Yikes! Do I still get scared, yes! But fear of not doing it is worse. I sing not because I’m the best singer but because singing is healing for me. Singing is not being afraid anymore. Singing is joyful especially when you belt it out. And if you hit a wrong note, so what. I learned not to be so hard on myself and simply find the play in it all. As I sing more and more, my voice doesn’t sound so bad anymore. Actually, sometimes I think it sounds pretty but that’s not the point. The point is that as my dad was laughing at me, he wasn’t trying to be mean. I was witnessing my dad’s own insecurities with singing and I developed those same insecurities. I wonder what my dad would have sounded like if he sang more. I’m sure he has a beautiful voice that was waiting to be polished. Maybe he was teased about it when he was young. Who knows but something happened and he was hurt. Singing was one of his unhealed wounds and I took it on in my lifetime to heal that wound for myself.
I work on healing myself so that I don’t pass on my pain to my children. They are the source of my motivation to heal myself both physically and mentally. I lived through a lot of traumas in my life and as I’m going through this 300 hour yoga teacher training, I’m realizing how broken I was. I thought I was fine but I wasn’t. I was hiding behind alcohol or some other distraction for a long time to avoid dealing with my wounds. I sing now because it is fun to play and because it is healing. I got to watch my daughter’s singing concert the other day and I can barely hold back my tears of joy as I watch her giggle and sing fearlessly. I never laugh and I always encourage her. I don’t care if she ever does anything with her singing but I do care if she doesn’t do it because of an insecurity. If there is a song that she likes then I look it up and I learn it and we sing together. My son and ex-husband also like to join in and we all become present simply enjoying each other.
I like the way the sounds buzz in my mouth when I sing. I like switching from my head voice to my chest voice. I like matching pitch. I like my liquid consonants and holding them. I like singing higher than the song really is and then dropping it down low playing with the pitch. I like singing in my car super loud and I don’t even care if I’m at a stop light anymore. I probably look like a huge nerd and I don’t care and that is healing. Geeking out and playing is healing. Singing for me in healing. I love you dad and I wish I could heal your voice too. I still get scared but I try to work through it for you and for my kids. Our voices are important and need to be heard.
I’m always super impressed when someone belt out a song. I especially love chanting at Kirtan’s. I like that I get to repeat the same words over and over. I like playing with my voice and belting it out. I like the way singing makes me feel. I loves singing for my children when they were babies. They always made mom feel like a rock star. I still like to sing with them and my son’s sweet soprano voice nearly knocks me off my feet because it’s so beautiful. Much love my lovely readers. Thanks for listening to my rants:) . Let me know if any of you also have a fear of singing. Always curious. Always looking to help. Peace out! I hope you all sing your hearts out!